City disputes inspector general’s scathing affordable housing report

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CHICAGO --The city is pushing back hard after Inspector General Joe Ferguson’s scathing new report on affordable housing.

“ We respectfully disagree with many of his conclusions,” said Commissioner for Planning and Development David Reifman,

Developers pay money to subsidize low-income housing. The inspector general report say the program could not account for $4.5 million.

“We can’t say exactly how that money was used,” Ferguson said.

Department of Planning and Development Commissioner David Reifman admits that in the past, the city could have better tracked funds. But the $4.5 million in losses were on paper only.

“There’s no evidence to show that there was any shorting of money,” he said.

The city says that the money appears to be losses on paper, but in fact that the money went to affordable housing.

The inspector general also blasts the Chicago Land Trust Program, saying in 10 years, it’s never actually acquired land for construction of affordable units.

“There’s a real question as to whether it has any meaningful value at all,” Ferguson said.

“The land trust does not own property but it accomplishes affordability through deed restrictions and long-term deed restrictions,” Reifman said.

And finally, the report says rather than encouraging affordable housing development, the city may actually have discouraged it.

“No one can really say what exactly the objectives are that we’re trying to achieve and whether or not we’re truly achieving those objectives with the decisions that are being made,” said Ferguson.

“We think our affordable housing program is a good, solid, robust program that accomplishes its objectives,” said Reifman.

The inspector general and the city simply do not agree on affordable housing. The City says many of these issues were addressed in an ordinance two years ago.